My KDP Select Short Story Kindle Publishing Experience
Where should I publish my writing?
When it came time for me to start marketing my short story, The Viability of a Seed, I found myself facing a perplexing decision. Should I publish across multiple platforms, or go with the newly released Kindle Direct Publishing Select program? I knew from my previous attempts at seeking publication that my cross-niche style of story writing is difficult to sell to professionally focused markets. I also don't like the idea of giving away my writing, expositions of my heart and soul, for free to the benefit of some third party. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with giving away a sample of your writing to gain a following, but I don't like the premise of working for free when someone else is gaining from my effort. (Again, sometimes that's the way the system works.. I just don't buy into it.)
After boiling all that down to a manageable remainder, I found myself faced with so many questions!
Musings about Self Pubbing in General
The Viability of a Seed is a story about a lot of things. It's about death, rebirth, and regrowth. Sure, it can be a narration of spiritual transitions, but the soul of the story lies within the metaphor.
There are a lot of reasons I could have chosen not to hunt for a publication to submit to. I've spent hours looking over Duotrope's database, but I just don't feel comfortable selecting some random mag out of the nether to send my work to. Honestly, I don't think they're looking for random submissions as a primary source of content either. We all want to be liked, followed, retweeted, whatever... so it only seems natural to submit to a magazine you've read and appreciated for some time. I'm just not that type of writer. I guess you could also say that I'm also not very comfortable with the type of writer I am.
But I am what I am. So when I look in the mirror I see the reflection of a lone wolf, one that doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the pack. I'm my own alpha male, and I don't buy into the power struggle around me. That probably makes me weak, but I feel it's better to know your weaknesses than to pretend they don't exist.
Self publishing can be a very lonely road. Along the way you'll meet authors who fit the same profile. You'll meet some authors who might not be ready to publish yet but want to move forward anyway. You'll meet the unknown, the semi-famous, and the superstars.
As is life.
The KDP Select Program
It was around the time I was ready to self publish my short that Amazon released the KDP Select publishing program. At first glance, it looked like a winner. The lowest I could price a single short story was $0.99, and with so much competition out there for reading time and the sheer number of authors attempting to break through with free full-length novels on the market... well, I guess I got a bit self conscious.
The KDP Select program allows you to offer your e-book or short story for check out to Prime members for a month at a time for the 90 days you're enrolled. This 90 day enrollment is renewable, but the catch is that Amazon demands exclusivity during participation in the program. For clarity, this means your participating work cannot be published or otherwise offered anywhere other than on Amazon. The potential payout comes from Amazon itself, who will reward you monetarily based upon the number of free Prime checkouts your work receives per allotted time period. You'll still be able to make sales from non-prime members during this time, the commissions from which will be handled in the manner stated in your publishing and commission agreement (based on pricing structure).
So given that you've got a somewhat loyal following already, with a good portion of Kindle fans and Amazon Prime members, the KDP Select program could outweigh the cons of having your work exclusive to the Kindle platform. Truly devout fans would simply download the PC Kindle application to read your work anyway, right?
The cons? I think my experience so far demonstrates the negative side of the program. I don't much have a loyal following to speak of. A few of my family members and a friend or two have supported me, but my exposure is extremely limited. I don't think that I'm a bad writer. I just haven't been able to get my writing out in front of enough people yet. That's where the exclusivity portion of the deal becomes a nail in the coffin for my future participation in the program.
Why not just opt out and go with another distribution option like Smashwords? I'd love too. However, this experience comes with a cost. I must leave my work in the KDP Select program until the 90 day period has completed. I can hope that I'll gain a bit of exposure before the campaign has ran its course; that a few kind readers will take the time to review my story, which may convince other readers that this is something worthy of their precious reading time.
Still, it's been a learning experience. When I have more loyal readers, when those readers fit highly into the Kindle platform demographic, when I've grown slightly bored with the routine of a multi-platform release... maybe then the KDP Select program will be worth a second look. Until that time, I suppose I ought to leave it to the big dogs as my plate will consistently remain devoid of scraps from the windfall.